He calls me, "Speed Racer," because I use a mobility scooter.
Chris is a portly, stooped over man, missing his front teeth. Never asked him, but I be guess'n somewhere about 70 years old.
His eyes always look hollow, but they sparkle a bit when it comes my turn in the checkout line.
There's a reason, I guess. He's been toothless since I've known him. Recently, I had my front teeth removed and our smiles matched. I could comfortably ask him how long his teeth had been missing.
"So long now, I no longer want them."
A full thud moment of the gut, that poverty stabs at you from its own heart and requires no explanation to the soul, was my answer.
For weeks we gummed our fellowship and became kindred spirits. Chris ain't doing the checking out, I ain't doing the shopping. Yeah, it's like that big time. Ain't got any loyalty to the store, except Chris do'n the checking out.
But, I worry about him. He is polite to all customers, loyal to his job and employer, but his eyes barely know joy anymore.
I know his real smile. I don't think the store's corporate headquarters knows it, but they profit greatly by it.
Chis? Not so much.
My gut knows he's really struggling. Heck, anyone with a minute amount of awareness, can tell it. Way too old to have to stand most of his working day, when compassion calls for a stool on wheels and the job done satisfactory.
Human decency, perhaps?
Only customers with hollow souls would object to a checker using a wheeled stool. Tells me what this corporation's leaders thinks of its employees.
I haven't got the right to ask Chris why he isn't retired and collecting his Social Security Earned Benefit. But, it don't take a brain to know the answer.
Something he needed for so long, he no longer wants it.
He's just trying to survive before his creator checks him out.
Merry Christmas, indeed.